April 04, 2009

First Paragraph Hook

I thought I'd share the first couple of paragraphs of my WIP with you. I've realized I have an unhealthy fear of letting others read my work, so I thought putting a bit out there for the world to see would do some good in getting me over it. Fear Factor done Sherrinda's way.

England, around the late 1100's.

She blew her unruly hair out of her eyes and paused to still her racing heart. Undoubtedly she had not practiced enough in the privacy of her room to have easy success. She surely did not count on the shaking of her fingers or the time wasted looking over her shoulder. Taking a deep breath, she slowly pried the tip of her knife into the lock, listening for the quiet catch of the spring.

“Jocelyn! Make haste!” Sister Mary stood several paces away, standing guard.

While most of the sisters in the convent were sound asleep in their rooms, there were known to be a few who felt the call for an extra prayer or two during the quiet of a dark night. Jocelyn had diligently planned for this night and knew she had but a few more moments before the watchman made his way to the gate she was feverishly trying to escape from.

I was going for a "hook" in the beginning of my book. My heroine escapes disguised as a boy and must overcome many obstacles in her quest to find her family, her home, and hopefully a place where she feels she finally belongs. I've had so much fun with her!

So how many of you have started your work with a hook? Do you ever share your work before it is finished? Are you ever afaid?


  1. No reason to fear, that was terrific. I felt the tension and the hook was definitely there. Well written! I commend you because I am truly phobic of people reading my stuff, odd isn't it?

  2. hey girl...i shared my opening lines on mary's blog, too! i saw your paragraphs there....made me want to read more. i try to start off with a hook and also strive to end most every chapter with one, as well. my crit partner says this is a strength of mine, so i was happy to hear that. :) i'm anxious to see what mary says. aren't you?

  3. Thanks for sharing, Sherrinda!
    You are off to a great start with your hook!

    OK, I think we need to be crit. partners or something, or at the very least exchange our research notes. :) Our minds must be on a similar vein, because my novel opens on a very similar note to yours! We will have to chat off the blog loop about it. But let me just say, I'm sure we could benefit from sharing our research with one another!!!! (Not to worry you, my novel is set in the early 1500's and has a different theme.) But. . .let's just talk!
    jjhedlund (at) aol (dot) com

  4. T. Anne, not phobic at all. I have heard that some are diligent about not letting anyone even KNOW what their book is about until it is done. I couldn't do that. I have to at least blab about mine some. I guess because I am so excited to finally be doing what I have always dreamed of doing.

  5. Jeannie, I had to jump over to Mary's blog and read your opening! And oooohhh...it gave me some goose bumps, girl! The dead flower what just too cool. I'd hate to have to analyze this guys psyche!

  6. Jody, that is music to my ears! I would absolutely LOVE to be a crit partner. I have to say I have been praying about finding one and am so excited that God has opened a door! I will definitely email you. ;)

  7. Hi Sherrinda,
    I'll look forward to chatting with you more about it!! I'd love to get some feedback from another writer who's familiar with the middle ages and who could help spot my inaccuracies!

    You'll laugh when you read my opening! I think we could really learn a lot from each other!

    And BTW I've been praying about the direction I should go with the whole critique thing too. In fact, next week's blog posts are about the whole issue!

    Well, I'm off to get my word count done for today! Happy writing to you too!

  8. Not bad! I'm not an expert on the Middle Ages, so can't help you much there. I would change that last word to "through" though. It confused me. We escape FROM a danger.

  9. Good for you Sherrinda! I can do contests, but sticking my stuff out there? *choking on my own fear*
    LOL Great job. The hook is there and you also did well starting with action, at a point where the protag's life is about to change. :-)
    I did see this on Mary's blog too. I'll confess to being afraid to put mine up. I did last time and *sigh* it got raked over the coals. Wah. I know. So I'm a scaredy cat still. But congrats to you!
    And I hope you and Jody get something started up, because crit partners are priceless.

  10. Janet, you are so right! I will have to get that changed, for sure. Thanks! (I read on your blog that you are a pastor's wife too!)

  11. You are so fun, Jessica. I am sure I will get raked over the coals too on Mary's blog, but I've got to start getting a tough skin, so I am jumping in. I may not be putting myself out there anymore after she getts through with me!

  12. Used to be. ;o) My husband is a professor now. He still gets to stand at the front and talk... LOL

  13. I admire people who can write historical fiction. I don't have the patience or the stamina to do all that research!! Your story sounds interesting. :)

    As far as sharing - I don't usually like sharing my work before I've written a complete first draft. I have a few loyal readers (family, friends, my Bible study leader) who always want to know what I'm cooking up next, but I have a hard time talking about my book before it's actually down on paper. I guess I'm afraid of giving too much away.

    I think it's cool that you posted some of your story on your blog. It's a great way to get feedback!

    Wishing you the best in conquering your fear!

  14. Janet, I always thought my husband would be a good professor...or a stand up comic!

  15. Kaite, I don't know that I am great at research, but I like to read medieval novels. Aren't you supposed to write what you love to read? Hhhmmm...that would make me write chick lit, contemorary romance, regency,... lol

    And as for the sharing, I may find that after this first novel is under my belt, it may be best to keep it to myself until reader-ready. I'm still learning!

  16. Always afraid!!!

    But I do share my work with my crit partners before it is done.

    You really captured curiosity in me with this beginning, Sherrinda. Great start!

  17. Thanks Eileen. I wouldn't figure you one to be fearful. You seem so strong -- faith-filled, steady.

    It seems there is a quote that says something like: Courage is not the absence of fear, but....I can't remember....but it was really good. :)

  18. I googled your quote:
    Ambrose Redmoon
    "Courage is not the absence of fear, but rather the judgement that something else is more important than fear."

    I love that! We can't let fear hold us back. Guess that's why I keep submitting.

    I'm fearful, always, because, my work is NEVER good enough to my crit partners. Which is good, because they always push me to do better, but sometimes the weak Eileen, would just once like to receive a crit back that isn't loaded with suggested "fixes". This is no short journey, and I'm coming to believe the largest part of this journey is figuring out what to take heed to, and what not to, as the editing can be endless, if you don't take a stand at some point.

  19. So Eileen, how do you know when to say your work is good enough? I am not even close to where you are, but if there is always things to fix, how do you ever feel secure enough to say enough is enough? Argggg...there is so much to learn!

  20. I really enjoyed your hook! I definitely want to read more.

    Yes, I share my work, and it's quite embarrassing. I have the 2nd draft of my completed second novel up on an invite-only blog right now. I've been getting feedback, and it's hard and very painful. But it's worth it. I grow and learn so much from sharing. Thank you for showing us your hook!

  21. Hi Sherrinda,

    I finally found your blog--yay!
    It takes courage to share your writing, and it's important to remember that writing is an act of generosity. You're giving the world a gift.

    I loved your opening paragraphs. They set the book up for a historical suspense. They left me with unanswered questions (in a good way, not a confused way) to keep reading. Why is this girl in the convent if she doesn't want to be? Why is this other nun helping her escape? Will she get away, or will the guard discover them?

    Great job! I'm looking forward to reading more of your posts.

  22. Lady Glamis, what a great idea to set up a blog for critiquing you WIP! I just love to hear new ideas and amazed that people can come up with something new, something different. (I loved finding out about your name on your blog! Perfect!)

  23. Jill, I love what you said about writing being an act of generosity, a gift to the world. Wow, that holds so much meaning and purpose. Thanks for that and your encouraging words! I've enjoyed your posts on fear - they are awesome!

  24. Sherrinda, I came over to say how much I enjoyed the excerpt you shared on Seekerville. I absolutely love "almost" kisses too. That one really showed their passion for one another and yet their insecurity, too. Very well done!!

    Since I was here, I read your response to my comment in here. I'm sorry, I'm the wrong person to ask this question. I still don't know when enough is enough. I keep submitting to my crit group, but I haven't started submitting to agents or editors since my earlier days. I need to get a proposal together and do just that, though.


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